Jumping poles, from horse jumping obstacles, are recurring signs in mounir fatmi's formal vocabulary, appropriated and integrated as plastic material. Several versions of Obstacles have been shown, in a variety...
Jumping poles, from horse jumping obstacles, are recurring signs in mounir fatmi's formal vocabulary, appropriated and integrated as plastic material. Several versions of Obstacles have been shown, in a variety of contextual configurations, like a sort of polymorphous sculpture. Whether straight in their stands, on the ground, precariously balanced or broken, the jumping poles play on the tension between construction and deconstruction, opening up interlacing points of view. They can be approached from an abundance of angles: aesthetic, perceptive and physical, conceptual, existential and socio-political.
If Obstacles can evoke both the readymade, Pop and Constructivism, it's because it has the affirmation of an aesthetic that is both dense and muddled, on which the visual representations of art history can be inscribed, as with so many of the scores played with by the artist. Circumnavigating this massive and fragile presence, the sculpture reveals a mobile-immobile reality, like a kinetic object. It is a universe of embodied, significant and unfinished forms, in which material and space, balance and collapse, chaos and faults, triumph and failure appear like different facets of the same object. Installed in a way that hinders the visitor's physical progression, Obstacles functions like a trap. Literally “obstacles”, it pits the resistance and complexity of the world against the body, reinvesting the conscience with the “corps propre” [one's own body] - to borrow Merleau-Ponty's expression - and materialising the system of being-in-the-world, between struggle, dialogue and commitment. Recent installations of Obstacles, placed at the entrance of the exhibition space, can be thought of, explains mounir fatmi, as “conversation catalysts, propositions to encourage dialogue.”
From a critical distance, Obstacles confirms the vision of a necessarily unfinished humanity, where only a permanently precarious state allows certainties to be deconstructed. It is a vision of human existence in which the constitution of identity, the concurrence of the self, the embrace of otherness and liberty demand that we free ourselves from passive determinism. Juxtaposed against this issue of determinisms to be overcome, including those of socio-cultural contexts – that of the artist, that of the foreigner – is the still more crucial question of borders and nations and, to borrow the words of Merleau-Ponty, all the “derailments of history”.